LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- With rumors swirling around the Winter Meetings on Monday about the possibility of the White Sox moving one of their starting pitchers, general manager Rick Hahn actually added to his rotation.
Right-handed pitcher Felipe Paulino agreed to a one-year, $1.75 million deal, which includes a club option for $4 million for 2015. A $250,000 buyout comes with the option.
Paulino, 30, posted a 0-3 record with a 6.51 ERA over seven 2013 injury rehab starts between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha as part of the Royals' system. He debuted on June 11 after undergoing ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow on July 3, 2012.
The White Sox are hoping Paulino returns to pre-surgery form, when the 6-foot-3, 270-pounder produced a 1.67 ERA and 39 strikeouts over 37 2/3 innings in 2012. Right-handed hitters had a mere .065 average with runners in scoring position against Paulino, while left-handers hit .190 (16-for-84) overall.
"When he's right and healthy, we see him as a power arm with four pitches and a guy who can be a quality starter in a big league rotation," said Hahn during his meeting with the media Monday at the Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort. "Based on our medical reports and based on where he has progressed to, we have every reason to believe he'll be able to help us come Opening Day."
Hahn pointed to the '15 option as an important part of the deal, in that they don't have to rush him back. Paulino could move into the rotation if the White Sox eventually move one of their seemingly coveted starters, or he could give young starters such as Erik Johnson and Andre Rienzo greater time to develop if needed.
His presence also allows the White Sox to use Hector Santiago in a valuable swing role out of the bullpen, especially if the team continues playing with the 11-man staff idea.
"A guy like Paulino, given his upside, is exactly the type of guy that we are in a nice position to take a chance on thanks to our training staff and our doctors and our coaching staff," said Hahn, handing out plaudits to head athletic trainer Herm Schneider and pitching coach Don Cooper for their help in making this move possible. "He has played a variety of roles, so conceivably he could end up in the bullpen, but right now we're viewing him as an option for our rotation."